Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Truest statement of the week

Both of the duopoly political parties are happy captives of their respective donor classes. The names of the oligarchs change but they all believe in keeping as much of their money as possible and making sure that there is no discussion of any alternative configuration. Their control negates the ability of the government to address the people’s needs. 

Corporations don’t want employees who would feel free to quit their jobs or make demands or go on strike if they didn’t depend on employment for health care. Keeping people in a state of fear and uncertainty is more profitable to them than shedding health care costs. 

The homeless could be housed with government spending. The federal government was the primary source of public housing creation in decades past. That is not possible when the military budget comprises 60% of discretionary spending and prevents the government from interceding on behalf of the people.

“Keeping people in a state of fear and uncertainty is more profitable.”

Even the party thought to be friendliest to the needs of working people adamantly refuses to consider Medicare for All, a program which would provide free care for every man, woman and child. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are at pains to proclaim that they will not consider enacting this program which is so desperately needed. 

The person who knew nothing outside of debates would think that everything is fine for most Americans. But half are low income, and the number of jobless is never really known because the so-called unemployment rate does not count those no longer receiving benefits. Speaking of benefits, millions of people unemployed by the COVID shut down crisis never received them at all or only after very lengthy delays. That information is never brought up in debates or on the campaign trail.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: Left Out of the Debate" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

Trump and Biden have no clear plan for addressing the pathetic failure of the United States to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden champions “testing and tracing” but has wavered on whether he will grant states the right to decide the fate of basic measures such as mask mandates. His commitment to the corporate health industry means that the U.S. will continue to lack a public health system capable of addressing the pandemic or reducing enormous healthcare costs bankrupting the working class. A Trump victory ensures that the danger of the pandemic itself will continue to be questioned no matter how many poor and vulnerable people perish.

The United States is a sick society and the COVID-19 pandemic is but one of its ailments. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are agents of the dictatorship of capital—the disease that has made the U.S. a sick society since its formation. The dictatorship of capital relies upon a feverish spread of the exploitation and destruction of its hosts: the people and the planet. Biden and Trump are ill-equipped to provide an antidote for austerity, endless war, mass incarceration, and the other symptoms of the disease. Each of these symptoms are a prerequisite to the existence and reproduction of the disease itself.

The only political antidote to the dictatorship of capital is socialism, which is broadly defined as the transfer of state power from the agents of disease, the capitalist class, to the oppressed and exploited classes. At this time, no coherent movement for socialism exists in the United States. The Sanders wing of the Democratic Party is no monolith and has yet to shed the hope of reforming an institution that has long been under the complete rule of monopoly capital. Activists marching under the banner “Black Lives Matter” emerged as the U.S. entered the early stages of a protracted economic crisis precipitated by the spread of COVID-19. No clear, organized alternative to the Democratic Party was able to form out of these disease-ridden conditions. The masses are thus left with two racist and vile candidates for the Oval Office occupying most of the political space in the United States.

-- Danny Haiphong, "The United States is a Sick Society That Produced Two Sick Options for President" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey -- 

Late Wednesday night.  At last. 

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with? 



-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.




Editorial: The 'left' pimping the continuation of the Iraq War

 It was called Saturday at THE COMMON ILLS, "John Peeler is a whore, it's that simple, there's nothing progressive about him."

To recap . . . 

It is not 'progressive for LA PROGRESSIVE to print a garbage war article that could have been written by Thomas Friedman and William Safire in 2004 (in fact, both gas bags did write this exact sort of article in 2004).

It is not progressive to say of the inhabited country Iraq, "We broke it, we bought it."  No.  Just no.  Iraq is not for sale and was not for sale.  'We' did not buy it.  It was an inhabited country and it was not for sale.

It is not progressive to pimp 'burden of the White man.'  But that's what Peeler writes, a 'burden of the White man' column.  

It is not progressive to ignore the feelings of the Iraqi people.  From the start of the war, the Iraqi people have been very clear that what they want is for US troops to leave.  That's not a new sentiment.  At this point, it shouldn't be a surprising sentiment.

For LA PROGRESSIVE to publish this garbage is shameful.  This is how bad things get when you have no ethics and you whore for a politician.  Peeler whores for Joe Biden.  Joe Biden is more important to Peeler than the over one million Iraqi people killed in the war so far, more important than the 35 million Iraqis living in their country today.  

To whore for Joe, Peeler pulls out neocon type arguments over a decade after they have been discredited and LA PROGRESSIVE publishes the garbage.

Media: Women in Music and Women and Music

Women and music.  The problem there isn't just NPR's ALL SONGS CONSIDERED -- as two NPR voices e-mailed us following "Media: The hatred of women runs deep -- even at NPR" and "Media: The people holding back women -- including other women."  We never thought it was just NPR, by the way.  The history of women in music is a history of women having to fight to get attention and then having to fight to keep it.  It's never that hard for men. 

"Suppose all ya ever had for breakfast was onion rolls. Then one day, in walks a bagel! You'd say, 'Ugh, what's that?' Until you tried it! That's my problem--– I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls. Nobody recognizes me!"  Barbra Streisand offered that explanation in the play FUNNY GIRL and then later in the film of the same name.


A lot of Barbra's own experiences were used for the part but in the quote above, she's not just speaking about the struggle she had winning over America but also the struggle so many female artists have.  Confused?


Let's convert it to candy.  Say you love Milky Way Dark and you know a lot of people who do.  You try to convince more people to try it but every gas station in the world refuses to stock it while stocking the Zero candy bar that really no one likes but, since it's stocked everywhere, people buy it and it appears popular and wanted.

 Something readily available will always sell better than something hard to find.  

 How does this apply to music?

In 1975, desperate to bring in bucks for  ELEKTRA-ASYLUM, David Geffen started planning THE BEST OF CARLY SIMON (released November 1975) and THE EAGLES GREATEST HITS (released February 1976).  He didn't release a Joni Mitchell collection.  Joni wouldn't have allowed it and she was his friend -- and house guest.  Why?


In those days, the bulk of music sales came from vinyl records (8-tracks were second in popularity).  You either joined COLUMBIA HOUSE and got your music in the mail or you bought it at the local record store.  The local record store had limited shelf space.  Joni knew that a greatest hits would mean they stocked that and one of her older albums.  Catalogue?  Not an issue for The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, etc.  Men were stocked -- their new albums, their old albums, even greatest hits didn't reduce their volume on the shelves.  


THE BEST OF CARLY SIMON immediately meant record stores no longer stocked her classic album WE HAVE NO SECRETS (it'll pop up again later in this piece) or ANTICIPATION or HOTCAKES.  Instead, it would just be THE BEST OF CARLY SIMON and her most recent album.  By contrast, James Taylor -- whose albums never sold as well as Carly's did -- would see his back catalogue stocked in record stores both before and after THE GREATEST HITS OF JAMES TAYLOR was released in 1976.  

David needed to make money.  He needed it bad.  He was trying to transition, after all.  He'd was in 'love' with Cher and had turned that into a production credit on her CBS show CHER.  He'd also angered WARNER BROTHERS -- parent company of ELTRKA-ASYLUM over the deal he made for Cher.  No one ever talks about that, by the way.  You're reading about it for the first time.


Cher has solo hits in the sixties ("You Better Sit Down Kids," "Bang Bang," "All I Really Want To Do," etc.) and hits with Sonny ("I Got You Babe," "The Beat Goes On," "Baby Don't Go," "Little Man," etc.).  This was followed by a few years of no hits.  Then, four years later, Cher rebounded and a string of solo hits followed ("Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," "Dark Lady," "Half-Breed," "They Way of Love," "Train of Thought," etc.) and a few hits with Sonny ("When You Say Love," "A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done," "All I Ever Need Is You" and "Mama Was A Rock And Roll Singer").  


But the hits had come to a half as had the marriage to Sonny and their joint-comedy-variety show.  David was now navigating Cher's career.  In the last few years, people have begun to note that he did more than get her a new record contract with WARNER BROTHERS, they've noted that he got her a $2.5 million record contract   It was a three album deal.  $2.5 million was a deal to impress Cher by suitor David.  It did not impress the label -- and that was before every album bombed.  But one of the reasons it didn't impress the label was because David did something unheard of.  He negotiated a deal where she would get the rights to those albums.  Not in 25 to 30 years, here are your masters.  She'd get them pretty much right away. 


Want to buy STARS today?  Can't.  Not a new copy.  WARNER BROTHERS doesn't have the rights, Cher does.  Same with the other two albums: I'D RATHER BELIEVE IN YOU and CHERISHED.  Those three albums were never released on CD -- not even in the CD-crazy nineties.  Why?  Cher owned the rights not WARNER BROTHERS and she wasn't keen on releasing them after she'd been ridiculed for the albums and they hadn't sold.  (STARS is now considered a classic.)


David was trying to move into film and TV and he'd been the golden boy of music.  Been.  The Cher deal didn't please his bosses at WARNER BROTHERS (they accused him of giving away the store -- fortunately for labels, neither Cher nor any other artist ever caught on that she got a once in a lifetime deal).  And his music work wasn't looking too good.  Joni's THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS only went gold.  This after her huge selling COURT & SPARK.  Carly's PLAYING POSSUM was banned from SEARS' shelves (among others) and didn't go gold as a result.  Bob Dylan's PLANET WAVES had captured a lot of press but not much in sales.  Tim Moore had been a high-profile signing (and David got into a bidding war with Clive Davis over Moore) who had already failed by 1975.  Jo Jo Gunne, another David 'prize,' had four stiff albums in a row by 1974.  Likewise David Blue had served up nothing but flops after David Geffen poached him from REPRISE (also part of WARNER BROTHERS).  

David Geffen needed hits and incoming money so he served up GREATEST HITS and BEST OFs by any artists on the label who were not part of his inner circle (Joni and Jackson Browne were among the protected).  Carly, Bread, the Eagles and all the others he rushed out hits collections on weren't his kindred.  

What does it matter?  Again, Joni grasped that it mattered and she barred David Geffen from doing a hits collection for decades.  This allowed her album BLUE to become a million seller domestically.  BLUE is a classic, no question.  But it was not a million seller when it was released.  It became a million seller over the years (1986) and that was because (a) the album was talked up and (b) people could walk into stores and find it.  The same is true of her LADIES OF THE CANYON.  COURT AND SPARK was a gold record within its first year of release but being stocked on shelves allowed it to become a two million seller.


By contrast, Carly's WE HAVE NO SECRETS left store shelves with the arrival of THE BEST OF CARLY SIMON.  It became that album and her latest release only at record stores and music outlets for years and years.  This was true throughout the seventies for all women except two.  Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Carole King, Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, Cher, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Donna Summer, Linda Ronstadt, Gloria Gaynor, Olivia Newton-John, Anne Murray and other solo female artists were poorly stocked when compared to their male counterparts like Elvis, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Jackson Browne, James Taylor. David Bowie, etc would have five to ten albums stocked at even the smallest record store.  Are you noticing that they're all White?  Smokey Robinson, Luther Vandross, Rick James, etc. weren't treated any better than women of any color.  The only three men of color that this was different for were Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince.  For Stevie, multiple albums as well as collections were stocked throughout the seventies and eighties because he had one gold album after another throughout the seventies and one platinum album after another throughout the eighties.  Michael Jackson?  With THRILLER, he became the best selling artist of all time.  Record stores immediately began stocking his solo MOTOWN albums as well as his classic OFF THE WALL.  The MOTOWN efforts to cash in on THRILLER (collections like FAREWELL MY SUMMER LOVE and ANTHOLOGY) would be carried as well.  Through the end of the 90s, you would find multiple Michael albums stocked: THRILLER, OFF THE WALL, DANGEROUS, BAD, FAREWELL MY SUMMER LOVE, HISTORY and more.  For Prince, it was 1984's PURPLE RAIN -- which swept the 1985 American Music Awards -- that would allow his back catalogue to be stocked.

So what two women were the exception?  Clearly, Joni Mitchell.  She was smart enough to say no to collections for as long as possible.  Other than her?  Barbra Streisand.  She doesn't own her masters but Marty Erlichman worked wonders as her manager from the beginning.  And by the seventies, she was COLUMBIA's biggest seller so she was treated the same as Bob Dylan -- record stores stocked her full catalogue and did so do to incentives and deals that Columbia reached with them.  

Let's look at two hit albums Barbra released.  In 1980, she released GUILTY and the album went gold (half a million sold) and platinum (a million sold) in its first year of release.  Because it was stocked, people were able to buy it for years.   By 1984, as a result, it had sold four million in the US.  By 1989, it had sold five million.  These are RIAA figures -- labels have to pay for the audits for these certifications.  GUILTY has continued to sell and were an audit done today, it would probably be at over six million copies sold -- we'd guess around 7.5 million and we'd expect a bump in sales of the 1980 album in the year in 2005 when Barbra reteamed with Barry Gibb for GUILTY PLEASURES.  Also, don't e-mail us that the album has sold 15 million copies.  When we're noting sales numbers, we're noting northern American totals, not worldwide.


Another album Barbra released that benefited from being stocked for years was THE BROADWAY ALBUM.  By April of 1986, the 1985 release had sold three million copies -- roughly a million sold after she won a Grammy for the album.  Even without a hit single, keeping the album on the shelves allowed it to continue to sell and, by 1995, it had sold another million copies for a total of 4 million. 

If you weren't Joni or Barbra, you didn't get that treatment.

Carole King didn't get that treatment.  Prior to THRILLER, her TAPESTRY was the best selling album in the US by a solo artist.  Despite that, the 70s didn't find record stores stocking all of Carole's albums.  This despite the fact that her follow ups to TAPESTRY were the gold albums (all certified gold within 12 months of their initial release) MUSIC, RHYMES AND REASON, FANTASY, WRAP AROUND JOY,  THOROUGHBRED and SIMPLE THINGS.  Seven bestsellers in the 70s including the monster album TAPESTRY.  But Carole, like pretty much every other female artist, was relegated to one new album on the shelves and TAPESTRY.  TAPESTRY, it's often been noted, sold like a greatest hits album.  That's due, in part, to the fact that the number one hits "I Feel The Earth Move" and "It's Too Late" (a double-sided single) are on the album as is her top twenty hit "So Far Away," as well as her version of "You've Got A Friend" (which James Taylor would take to number one -- his only number one, a song Carole wrote), her version of "Smackwater Jack" (which would be a hit for Quincy Jones) and her covers of sixties hits she co-wrote "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."  It sold like a greatest hits and was stocked like one.  Carole's actual greatest hits album, HER GREATEST HITS: SONGS OF LONG AGO, was a gold album that finally hit one million copies in sales in 2001.  A lousy cover and no real interest from music lovers kept it from selling.  But TAPESTRY sold like a greatest hits and was stocked like one, carried in any medium sized or large record store, year after year, allowed the album to sell 10 million copies by 1995.


Patti Smith should have a million seller in her catalogue.  But by the time DREAM OF LIFE was released in 1985, most stores weren't even bothering to carry a woman's older albums.  Had HORSES been stocked, Patti's album would have had steady sales and be a million seller today.  The same is true of Dusty Springfield's classic DUSTY IN MEMPHIS.


A long with this practice resulting in lower sales for music created by women, it also helped erase them from the music scene of the day as well as history itself. 


CDs came along int he mid-80s and not a lot changed.  By the mid-nineties, for example, every Diana Ross and the Supremes album from the sixties and every Diana solo album from the seventies would be out of print.  They'd been released in 1986, on CD, as part of MOTOWN's push to cash in on the CD craze.  But Berry Gordy sold MOTOWN to MCA in 1988 and MCA didn't give a damn about the history of MOTOWN (or making some easy money with re-issues).  


What changed things?  Another wave of feminism and some strong selling female artists including Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Mariah Carey and others.  Also important was BMG.  For years, the record/CD company COLUMBIA HOUSE has been happy to ignore women.  A token album or two by a female was in their big once-a-year catalogue (the exception being Barbra).  BMG, by the nineties, was making huge inroads and was the go-to for college students wanting to get CDs by mail (actually wanting to get 12 free ones with the promise of buying X number of new ones in the future).  BMG kept pushing the labels for CDs from female artists, specifically back catalogue.  They instituted their once a year look at women's music during Women's History Month and the labels responded by re-releasing older albums by Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell.  BMG customers could get Carly and Joni's catalogue -- albums from that decade, from the 80s and from the 70s.  It was a major moment but, a women's history moment, so it went unremarked upon by many.


Changing times, the music stores also began to stock these older albums by women.  However, by the end of the 90s, the internet would change things in many ways.

If you can remember record stores like Tower Records, you are nodding along and maybe smiling as you read the above.  That's because you remember the thrill of walking into the music store eager to buy something you knew about or find an album you'd never heard of.  A trip to a record store or, later a CD store, was something.  Really good ones had listening stations set up.  You could sample an album before purchasing it.  You'd leaf through the stacks to see if there was an album you wanted.  Or check out the new inventory displays.  If they carried used vinyl or used CDs, you could check that out.  The thrill of discovering a surprise in the bins was always a rush.

The late nineties saw the rise of the internet.   By 2002, Wherehouse Music (formerly Blockbuster Music and Sound Warehouse) closed its stores with cardboard signs put up (per company orders) in the windows saying, "Thanks Napster."  Napster did not lead to the closures.  AMAZON continued, for example, to sell music online in vinyl and CD formats.  Streaming was popular and that popularity would only continue to grow.  But the price fixing regarding CDs did more to hurt the physical stores than anything else.  In the UK, CDs were much cheaper.  In the US, the lie to consumers was that the price would come down eventually.  As more and more CDs were produced, the price would come down.  That never really happened.


With the stores now online, it seemed we might finally reach equality in music.

That wasn't the case.  MOTOWN turns fifty and AMAZON 'celebrates' with a banner -- that doesn't include any woman, not even Diana Ross.


They control who gets promoted, who gets emphasized.

They control, as we noted last July, who gets suggested:

Another irritation is suggestions.

We know what we want to listen to.

Nothing is more irritating for us then pulling up AMAZON MUSIC on the TV and seeing in the first square under "Playlists Just for You" the ugly mug of James Tayler and "HANDPICKED with James Taylor."

We don't listen to James Taylor.  That's not an oversight, it's an active choice.

He's a woman hater supreme.  He broke up with Joni Mitchell in a rude manner and then ignored her and treated her as though she was dead.  Carly Simon overheard a phone conversation where James told Joni she was dead to him.  Which is why Carly shouldn't be all that surprised at the way James has repeatedly treated her since their divorce.  His refusal to speak about her in interviews, his refusal to credit her gifts and give her the artistic praise she deserves is appalling.  They weren't just married and they aren't just the parents of two children, they also worked together.  They wrote songs together.  They recorded songs together.

There are more reasons we don't listen to him.  James is the worst singer -- he has a horrible intonation issue..  (Listen to the chorus of "Shower The People.")  Is it cold in the studios he poses for photos in?  Is that why he wears the hats?  Or is because he's bald.  (It's because he's bald.)  He's a bald man who still writes likes he's a fresh-faced 18-year-old falling in love for the first time.  Of all the many things James Taylor's music misses, perspective is the most obvious absent quality.  He's not a very good songwriter to begin with.

There are those and many other reasons we don't -- and won't -- listen to James Taylor.

So why does try to pimp him to us?

And here's another issue -- we listen to Diana, we listen to Carly Simon, to Melanie, to Aretha, to Cher, to Tori Amos, to Fiona Apple, to Erykah Badu, to Joni Mitchell, to Laura Nyro, to Sade, to the Rolling Stones . . .

Did you notice something there?

We listen to more women than men.  So why are we getting these recommended "Playlists Just For You"?

HANDPICKED with James Taylor
Classic Standards
Best of Frank Sinatra
REDISCOVER Louis Armstrong
Best of Louis Armstrong
Side by Side with Michael Buble
Best of Dean Martin

That's all on the top row of the TV screen.  If we click the continue button we finally find one woman on the long list "Best of Amy Winehouse."  Over 30 suggestions -- over 30 ridiculous suggestions -- including "Chris Pratt's Workout Playlist" -- and only one woman's on it?

This isn't about what we listen to.  And shame on AMAZON for the sexism.

Since we wrote that, we've continued to listen to Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Melanie Safka, Arethat Franklin, Cher, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Sade and we've added Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys, Cass Elliot, Carole King, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Joss Stone and others.  We made a point to listen only to women since July so that we could see what impact -- if any -- that had on 'suggestions' that come on our screen when we pull up our AMAZON MUSIC account.  What's being suggested?


14 suggestions of work by men before we even get to a woman being suggested.

Does AMAZON ever plan to address their sexism?

They're not the only ones with a problem.  This is from Roberta Flack's CRAPAPEDIA entry:

Flack's minimalist, classically trained approach to her songs was seen by a number of critics as lacking in grit and uncharacteristic of soul music. According to music scholar Jason King, her work was regularly described with the adjectives "boring", "depressing", "lifeless", "studied", and "calculated";[12] AllMusic's Steve Huey said it has been called "classy, urbane, reserved, smooth, and sophisticated".[26] In 1971, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau reported that "Flack is generally regarded as the most significant new black woman singer since Aretha Franklin, and at moments she sounds kind, intelligent, and very likable. But she often exhibits the gratuitous gentility you'd expect of someone who says 'between you and I.'"

Reviewing her body of work from the 1970s, he later argued that the singer "has nothing whatsoever to do with rock and roll or rhythm and blues and almost nothing to do with soul", comparing her middle-of-the-road aesthetic to Barry Manilow but with better taste, which he believed does not necessarily guarantee more enduring music: "In the long run, pop lies are improved by vulgarity."[12]

That's from the section labeled "critical reputation."

You know what Roberta's critical reputation is?  Fourteen Grammy nominations.  Fourteen nominations.  Four wins.

Where the hell is that in their slam on Roberta?


It's not.  And in the section on Grammys, they wrongly have her nominated 13 times. It's 14, use our link two paragraphs up -- it goes to the Grammy website's page on Roberta Flack.

So Robert Christgau's sexism permeated the seventies and because he still alive, we're going to quote him?  Why in the world are women being defined by sexist male critics?

Earlier this year, music critic Ann Powers wrote a lengthy essay on Roberta for NPR which included the following:

She is best known for majestic ballads like 1973's "Killing Me Softly With His Song," which laid the groundwork for the neo-soul sounds of R&B in the 21st century. But real heads, as the perennially hip Flack might say herself, continually find their way to her albums, which are funky, sexy and political, blending jazz and Latin and rock and, always, classical elements in ways that defy the "adult contemporary" label often attached to her work. She's so often been ahead of the curve in her 50 years recording, bringing the Brazilian arranger and composer Eumir Deodato out of the jazz world into her sessions in the 1970s, helping R&B stalwart and future Disney balladeer Peabo Bryson break through to the mainstream in the early '80s, connecting with new wave reggae star Maxi Priest for a Top 10 hit in the 1990s. Long before "post-genre" was a cliche on a million pop aspirants' lips, Flack showed how to build a legacy based on a quiet belief in limitlessness. Starting with First Take -- which will soon be reissued in an extras-packed deluxe edition -- she established her own parameters and then continually transcended them.

Though she does occasionally co-write her material, Flack came to fame as an interpreter as bold and discerning as her role models Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra. Like them, she had no fear of putting a Broadway ballad like "The Impossible Dream" next to a Bee Gees song on her setlists. Her inventiveness and panache placed Flack beside Aretha Franklin, Judy Collins and Joan Baez as prime revisionists of the American songbook at the turn of the 1970s. She made room in the repertoire for the new generation of singer-songwriters emerging from the folk revival, like Cohen and Laura Nyro, and for civil rights movement-inspired black composers like Eugene McDaniels, who authored many of her most powerful and political songs. Later she would work with McDaniels and others to invent a new style of R&B that built musical all-inclusiveness into its circulatory system -- the marketing term applied to it was "quiet storm" -- and which, after too many years of critical underestimation, would reveal itself as a prime element in 21st century pop.

Flack is primed for the kind of critical and popular renaissance that brought Nina Simone back into the forefront of the musical conversation not long ago, and unlike that lost genius, she is still with us to enjoy it during her lifetime. As the only solo artist to win the Grammy for Record of the Year two years in a row -- in 1973 for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," and in 1974 for "Killing Me Softly With His Song" -- she should have been granted, at the very least, a spotlight tribute during this year's televised ceremony, especially since host Alicia Keys owes Flack a considerable (and, by her, acknowledged) artistic debt. Instead, there was merely one quick shot of Flack smiling beatifically in the audience. Perhaps that cutaway did capture something: the failure of popular music's official institutions to fully track Flack's importance. She is beloved, yet underestimated, a treasure too rarely held up to the light.

One reason for this, unavoidably, is racism. After the 1980s, when new radio formats and outlets like MTV did much to undo the genre-busting experiments of the previous decade, Flack continued to be a regular presence on both the black-oriented R&B and white-dominated adult contemporary charts. But the influence of this firebrand who had openly defied others' definitions of "soul" was increasingly downplayed within the emerging histories of both rock and soul. (One obvious slight: Though she has been eligible since 1994, she's never even been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.) The values her music conveys -- virtuosity's attention to detail; the warm sensuality and tender eroticism shared by longtime friends and lovers; revelations reached slowly and thoughtfully instead of in a clattering crash -- didn't coalesce within a rock and roll-defined hierarchy that puts rebels and gritty individualists at the top. Within black communities and among artists of color, Flack's music has always remained a central guiding force. But to fully acknowledge Roberta Flack's importance is to rethink the presumptions that have haunted popular music for as long as she herself has been making music. Really listening to her seems like a good place to start.

Oh, yeah, quiet storm which births neo soul.  Roberta pioneered that genre, defined it.  Marcella Hemmeter (VINYL ME PLEASE) selected the 10 most important albums of the quiet storm genre.  Oh, look, there's Sade, Smokey Robinson, Maxwell, Erykah and, wait, it's . . .  Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson for their album BORN TO LOVE.  Oh, look, over at CRAPAPEDIA's list of quiet storm songs, Roberta's got four on the list (don't miss the duet with Peabo Bryson -- if you only see three, you missed "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love").

The distinctive magic of Roberta Flack is inextricably related to the minimalist quietude of her classic ballads.  Songs like 1975's slinky "Mr. Magice" and the dreamlike "Feel Like Makin' Love" are some of the most hushed, low-key R&B recordings ever released.  Writing in ROLLING STONE, Julius Lester identifies her gift: "More than any singer I know, she can take a quiet, slow song (and most of hers are) and infuse it with a brooding intensity that is, at times, almost unbearable.  Some of Flack's album titles, like QUIET FIRE and BLUE LIGHTS IN THE BASEMENT (named after slow jam-only parties), confirm her penchant for damped understatement.  Clues to Flak's musical sensibility can be found in her cover of Lori Lieberman's "Killing Me Softley With His Song," a perfect song choice for Flack, winning her a second consecutive Grammy for Record of the Year, as well as Song of the Year and Pop Vocal Female trophies.  The killing, of course, is both ironic and metaphorical: the narrator feels as if she is being sensually turned ''inside out'' by a guitar-wielding ''young boy'' singer.  It is as if her intimate thoughts have been exposed, even though he is a ''stranger'' and they've never met.  The lulling, delirious reverb and echo effects turn Flack's stacking choral harmonies into a pillowy, floating soundscape.  Eumir Deodato's clever arrangement gradually fills out, particularly on the famously scatted bridge.  But the subdued delicacy of the instrumentation remains consistent throughout the track.  What's ingenious about "Killing Me Softly" is that form is inseparable from content: it's a rapturous, delicately rendered performance of a song about the process of being enraptured by a delicately rendered performance of a song.  The laid-back breeziness of the record helped mark the drift toward more mellow sounds in American popular music of the 1970s.  Soft rock, forged by artists like Carole King and Fleetwood Mac, found its R&B analogue in quiet storm, the tenderized style that became home to artists like Flack, the Isley Brothers, and Frankie Beverly and Maze.


We could go on and on with that excerpt.  But what are we quoting from?  LISTEN AGAIN: A MOMENTARY HISTORY OF POP MUSIC by . . . Jason King.  It's the book, or rather the essay in the book, that CRAPAPEDIA pretends to be quoting from.  King writes Roberta "remains an underestimated trailblazer."  His essay is not slamming Roberta and the section quoted is where he is talking about how certain critics felt the need to slam Roberta for not being their stereotypical version of Black (critics like Robert Christgau).  It's not for nothing that the essay King contributes to the book is entitled "The Sound Of Velvet Melting: The Power of 'Vibe' in the Music of Roberta Flack."


CRAPAPEDIA has completely misconstrued Jason King's essay and, yes, it was intentional.  The quotes -- even the Christgau quotes -- appear on page 183 of the essay  -- that would be the essay that starts on page 172 and concludes on page 196. 

That's the world we live in.  CRAPAPEDIA serves up an argument that Jason King rejects in page after page of an essay on the lasting contributions of Roberta Flack.  Things are better in the digital age?

In the digital age, vinyl now outsells CDs -- true of the first half of this year.  And Saturday, October 24th is Record Store Day.  Looking at press coverage of the upcoming event, we saw a plethora of male artists and Aimee Mann the sole female.  


Knowing nothing about Record Store Day (other than you by vinyl on that day) we contacted RECORD STORE DAY and  Carrie Colliton kindly walked us through explaining that, "While we do make suggestions and work with labels and artists to provide special releases for the stores on special days throughout the year, Record Store Day doesn't own, produce, or license the releases themselves."  She also explained, "Record Store Day is run by a staff of two, and half of us are female.  We highlight female artists, staff and store owners throughout the year on our website, in our social media and on our podcast, and we offer stores the ability to call out female and other minority ownership on their individual store listings on our site."  Carrie seems like a caring person with a wonderful sense of humor and we thank her for her input.

Our NPR buddies could use some of her humor.  Two of the critics participating in NPR's ALL SONGS CONSIDERED e-mailed us.  To complain.  We were wrong about the lack of women on ALL SONGS CONSIDERED?  No.  They knew better than to claim that, the numbers spoke for themselves -- that's the thing about statistics.  So since they couldn't argue with what we've discussed, they instead tried to divert us.  Yes, the two e-mails said (did they plan out the e-mails together ahead of time?) ALL SONGS CONSIDERED should have more women but why are we letting PBS off the hook?

That was their 'answer' to the inability to offer female panelists in an equal number to male panelists on ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: Why are you letting PBS off the hook?

We weren't letting PBS off the hook, we were holding NPR accountable.  Someone needs to.

But to wrap this topic of women and music up, let's note what the two NPR music critics were talking about.

PBS has a new show.  If you know PBS, you probably know a detail that NPR e-mailers didn't.  The show in question is produced by the BBC.  PBS is only carrying old episodes of it.  The program in question is entitled CLASSIC ALBUMS and each episode explores a classic album.  UK viewers have seen 23 episodes so far.  PBS stations carrying the program are on season one so there's much more to come.  

23 episodes means 23 albums.  How many of those albums are by women?  Three.  Some will insist that it is three because RUMOURS was recorded by Fleetwood Mac when two of the five members were women (Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks).  RUMOURS also had three men in the group (John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham) so calling it an album by women may grate on some.  But we'll be kind and say three.  The other two?  The late Amy Winehouse's BACK TO BLACK is one and the other is Carly Simon's NO SECRETS.  That's it.  23 albums and that's it for the albums featuring women.

NPR e-mailers thinks this is the big problem -- a bad show from the UK that PBS is airing.  We would argue that the weekly sexism in the choice of panelists for ALL SONGS CONSIDERED is a greater problem but we won't deny that CLASSIC ALBUMS is a problem.  Hopefully, as this long article has made clear, there are many problems and many obstacles.  Women made music, they make music history, they have to fight for their moment on the stage and for their moment on the page when history is written.  We thought and hoped things would be different in the digital age but that has not been the case.  





by Joseph Kissywhore
Forget Pizzagate, Donald Trump is eating babies. No spirit cooking, he eats them live. Like sushi. In fact, I have it on good authority -- four of the seven voices in my head insist -- that he rolls them in seaweed -- Nori seaweed. I've even heard that he dips them in Wasabi before eating them. I'm running for president too, or on a few ballots anyway, but it's really important to me that you vote for the other Joseph, Joe Biden. . . .

A video statement by WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman Dick Nuts "My way of saying welcome to the all new WSWS"

by Patting Ricks Johnson

Throughout the first three days of Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing, our cowardly senators on both sides of the aisle refused to ask Barrett where she believes US Fascist President Donald Trump was the day JFK was assassinated -- this silence despite the fact that a teenaged Donald Trump was rumored to have a THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. NAPOLEAN SOLO GUN -- a 'toy' that, remember boasted it ''converts into a rifle with stock-silencer-telescopic-sight-bipod.   How close to the Texas Book Depository did Trump get?  It's a question not even Senator Ted Kennedy had the guts to ask! ...

The above story has been retracted after several readers left comments explaining that, even if Trump had such a gun, he wouldn't have had it in 1963 since THE MAN FROM UNCLE did not start airing until 1964.  In addition, numerous readers insisted Trump could never be in a book depository or a book store or anywhere reading or knowledge might take place.  In addition, some of you are claiming that Ted Kennedy is dead.  We believe you have confused the senator with his late brother JFK.  To our readers, we say that we're sorry you question us and encourage you to always believe anything bad about Trump.  That's how we retake the White House -- oops, we didn't mean to say that.  We're Social-lites, not Democrats!!!!

In Times of Trouble, Ask What Cornelia Guest Would Do?
by Joannie La-la-la

What is the role of fashion in the midst of a pandemic?  Enormous!!!!  Staring at Maria Grazia Chiuri's Dior, I was reminded yet again of what philosopher and fashion activist Cornelia Guest once said, "What I don't understand is these people who go on the street wearing riding clothes, and they have never been on a horse.  They ought to have their heads examined, really.  It's a joke.  But, let's face it, we live in a fantasy world."  For more inspiration and judgmental calls, seek out Cornelia's 2013 HARPER'S BAZAR essay "My Mother C.Z." which contains such powerful insights as, "She hated high heels -- they make you look like a prostitute, she would say."


Open letter to the corporate media

Dear members of the US press corps, 
How's that molly coddling working out for you?

You've preened like proud parents over elected Democrats for the last years and how is that working out for you?

Oh, sorry, you've preened over some Democrats. You know the ones, center-right, neoliberals. Let an AOC emerge or even a Tulsi Gabbard and you lose your collective heads. You boo and you hiss. But let an abject failure of We The People come along, like Nancy Pelosi, and you can't stop oohing and awing. It's so bad that you're fogging up the outside glass of the incubator you placed her in. 

She's been outlandish forever and a day but she does nothing of value. Nothing for real people, working people, anyway. She helps the corporations. She's real good about that -- look at the Covid bill she got behind. But that same bill did nothing for We The People. $1,200? A one time payment that's long gone.

She's a lousy politician because she never did anything but raise money. Nance didn't lead any marches. Nance didn't take part in a sit-in.

Grasp that.

Grasp that she was born in 1940. That means she was a young adult during Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement and the launch of the second wave of the feminist movement. And our 'left' Nancy somehow didn't have anything to stand up for. We're reminded of Rhonda Weiss and her reaction to the potential ban of saccharine:

Up until now, I never really felt the need to protest. I mean nothing in the sixties really bothered me. None of the guys I knew went to Vietnam. They all went to law school. 


But the thing there is? (A) It's a comedy skit featuring the hilarious Gilda Radner and she's trying to be funny. And (B) even Rhonda found something to finally protest. 

Nancy Pelosi never did.

She is ruthless when it comes to her own power. For example, she got opposition research on her opponents for Minority Leader in 2002 and used it to force them out -- including one House Rep who threw a party for volunteers and 18 and 19 year-olds were photographed drinking though they were underage. Of course, we should note that it's not work that she herself did. The actual research was farmed off and paid for. Nance only delivered the threats -- something she's always enjoyed doing herself.

That's how she got to be Minority Leader and then later Speaker of the House. Somehow, all of her schemes and scams never made the press. When Rahm Emanuel was Democratic Caucus Chair, he ran a lot of interference for her -- usually by schmoozing the press, not by bullying. Rahm is the dream candidate of the corporate press but he also knew how to use a light touch.

Nancy's never had a light touch. Ask the editorial board of THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE and they can tell you all about it. She's also not good at taking responsibility (ask the same board about how many times she blamed the failure of everyone of her promises on then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid).

She was humored back then.

These days, she's pampered and, as a result, she's turned into a spoiled brat.

Back in April, questioned by CNN's Jake Tapper, Nancy whined, "Just calm down." He was asking about COVID legislation. That tantrum was preceded by the one she threw on air with Jake Tapper when he asked about impeachment. She huffed, "Can we not have anymore questions about impeachment." The problem there included it was December 5, 2019 -- the same day she held a press conference on impeachment (stating she would push members of the House to vote to proceed). She's just a spoiled rotten child -- as out of control as Donald Trump. That was the press conference, please remember, when reporter James Rosen (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) asked her if she hated Donald Trump. She nearly spat out her reply, "I don't hate anybody. I was raised in a Catholic house, we don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world."

Apparently Nance missed the whole Northern Ireland issue, as well as the persecution of Pentecostals in 1935 and the 2015 apology by Pope Francis for the persecution of a small Christian church during the 12th century, as well as -- oh, you get the idea.

History, for Nancy, isn't what happened, it's what she says happened.

"Don't mess with me," Nancy threatened Rosen.

She's out of control and has been for some time. Blame yourselves, members of the press, for acting like overindulgent parents who refuse to set boundaries. The sole exception being CBS NEWS' Gayle King who called Nancy out last month for her "egregious language."

Yesterday, Nancy went off on CNN's Wolf Blitzer It was not an attractive moment for her. It was something more along the lines of what we expect from Bill O'Reilly when Terri Gross had him on FRESH AIR a few years back. He asked about the lack of another stimulus, "Many Americans are waiting in food lines for the first time in their lives. Can you look them in the eye, Madam Speaker, and explain why you don't want to accept the president's latest stimulus offer?" She refused to answer and sputtered on about how Republicans "don't really want to meet the needs of the American people," and Democrats, according to Nance, are no better judging by her remarks about Andrew Yang and Ro Khanna, "They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here."

At her bitchiest, when she out-bitches even Keith Olbermann, she insisted, "What makes me amused -- if it weren't so sad -- is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at the table."

Nancy hasn't been representing her constituents for years. Maybe that's why she was such an ass to Wolf?  Echoing the nonsense of her 'clap' at the State of the Union, Nancy snarled at Wolf, "Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents' needs." She them began screaming, "We feed them! We feed them!" 

Is it time to point out that Nancy is 80-years-old? Or that Harry Reid is 80-years-old now and retired when he was 77? Hint, hint, Nancy, hint, hint.

Nancy's out of check and that's because you, the press, have stoked her ego. She's never been an activist in her life and she can't get through a press conference embarrassing herself. This was true in 2007 and it's only more true today. But you have coddled her and the lack of accountability has turned her into a real ass.

This on you,

Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. -- all of us, by the way, are Nancy's constituents and, no, she doesn't represent us 


#TheJimmyDoreShow What Elites Refuse To Face About The 2020 Election.


Become a Premium Member: Go to a Live Show: Subscribe to Our Newsletter: LIVESTREAM & LIVE SHOW ANNOUNCEMENTS: Email: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: WATCH / LISTEN FREE: Videos: Podcasts: (Also available on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.) ACCESS TO FULL REPLAYABLE LIVESTREAMS: Become a Premium Member: SUPPORT THE JIMMY DORE SHOW: Make a Donation: Buy Official Merch (Tees, Sweatshirts, Hats, Bags): DOWNLOAD OUR MOBILE APP: App Store: Google Play: Jimmy Dore on Twitter: Stef Zamorano on Twitter: Edited by Koki Miyazaki About The Jimmy Dore Show: #TheJimmyDoreShow is a hilarious and irreverent take on news, politics and culture featuring Jimmy Dore, a professional stand up comedian, author and podcaster. With over 5 million downloads on iTunes, the show is also broadcast on KPFK stations throughout the country. 

Krystal Ball Exposes Democrats FAKE Health Care Argument Against ACB


Krystal Ball discusses Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing, and explains why she believes Democrats are holding off on protecting the Affordable Care Act. About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen. It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers. Follow Rising on social media: Website: Hill.TV Facebook: Instagram: @HillTVLive Twitter: @HillTVLive Follow Saagar Enjeti & Krystal Ball on social media: Twitter: @esaagar and @krystalball Instagram: @esaagar and @krystalmball

Tweet of the week

John Stauber Tweets:

John Stauber: “As divided as America is, it will be even more so in the years ahead, because neither the election of #Biden nor the re-election of #Trump will be uniting.”

Howie Hawkins 2020 Ad: Choose Peace FB: Twitter: @howiehawkins20 Instagram: @howiehawkins2020

Can't Stomach Biden? Vote for Howie Hawkins! FB: Twitter: @howiehawkins20 Instagram: @howiehawkins2020 Tay Anderson, Denver School Board director at large, knows that Biden is up by 10 points in Colorado. He knows that the Green Party is the one fighting for what even rank-and-file Democrats actually want and with that lead, you can safely vote your values. So follow his advice and vote for Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker. Read their short platform here: Listen to Tay!

This edition's playlist


1) Alicia Keys' ALICIA.


5) The Pretenders' HATE FOR SALE.

6) Harry Style's FINE LINE.  

7)  Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.  

8) Maria McKee's LA VITA NUOVA




#VoteGold Jo Jorgensen Joins Kibbe on Liberty - Podcast


Learn More: #VoteGold Originally Posted on Oct 5th, 2020. "Matt Kibbe sits down with Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen to talk about the dumpster fire debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden and find out why third parties aren’t allowed to share the stage. Jorgensen argues that the two major parties are threatened by competition, since they each have little to offer the American people. They also discuss political tribalism, media bias, and why vodka doesn’t taste like anything. Watch Kibbe on Liberty on BlazeTV: Follow Kibbe on Liberty on Facebook: Follow Free the People on YouTube: Follow Free the People on Twitter: Follow Free the People on Instagram: Follow Free the People on Facebook: Visit Free the People's Website: Kibbe on Liberty is a weekly podcast with libertarian author, economist, and community organizer Matt Kibbe. As the president of Free the People, Kibbe has decades of experience in the libertarian political sphere, but in these troubled times he believes that open dialogue is needed to bring people together. This means being willing to talk, and especially listen, to those with whom we might not always agree, trying to understand perspectives that might otherwise be foreign to us. Kibbe on Liberty's growing roster of guests includes politicians, economists, comedians, writers, radio personalities, activists, journalists, and even a magician or two—with topics of conversation ranging from current affairs to craft beer and the Grateful Dead. So grab a cold one, and settle in for the next hour of Kibbe on Liberty, mostly honest conversations with mostly interesting people."

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